With her garage and punk band TAT, Tatiana DeMaria has spent blocks of five summers on the Vans Warped Tour. The first year, in 2006, the U.K. trio was just out of high school.
“We were babies, and we had no idea what we were doing,” said DeMaria, who returns to the Warped Tour for its final year, including a June 23 concert at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View. “We started excruciatingly young, so when we came out here, no one was old enough to drink, and we were piecing it together. Warped Tour is such a different beast because it’s free market madness every day—it’s not a club show.”
DeMaria is preparing for the release of a solo EP and will be touring by herself this time around, following stints in 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2015. But the inclusive, fraternal nature of the touring festival ensures she will never be lonely.
“It’s a really fun, awesome summer camp, and I’ve had some of the most fantastic memories doing it,” she said. “Some of producers on Warped Tour have become my closest friends, and [tour founder] Kevin Lyman is a dear friend of mine as well. Being able to spend your summers with those people and make music and hang out with your fans is an exceptional thing to do.
“[On] club tours, it’s you and another band or two,” she said. “But to have 600 people all together, just getting to know each other—it’s amazing. Every day you go and meet a new band and make new friends, so it’s incredibly unique. I’ll be very sad [when] it comes to an end.”
Tatiana DeMaria credits the Warped Tour for building her London band’s fanbase in the U.S. The singer-guitarist, who grew up loving the likes of Green Day, The Clash, Rancid and NOFX, co-founded the band at 16 in 2003, and two years later the lineup solidified with Nick Kent and Jake Reed. By 17 she had written the band’s debut album, Soho Lights, which would not be released until 2008. Several songs charted in the U.K.
The band toured with the likes of Alice Cooper and the Offspring, but it was Warped Tour that taught DeMaria and her bandmates about touring the U.S., and gave her some of her most favorite memories. She got to know her childhood heroes, such as NOFX or Pennywise, or Bad Religion and the Bouncing Souls.
“I remember someone wearing a ‘Champagne Cocaine & Strawberries’ T-shirt … and [NOFX’s] Fat Mike walking to a person right next to me and saying, ‘TAT–I fucking love that band. That song ‘Champagne Cocaine & Strawberries’ is fucking amazing.’ That was my first interaction with Fat Mike. For a kid who is just out there doing music, it was really lovely.”
While fans want to hear rock and roll stories, some of Tatiana DeMaria’s favorite memories of Warped Tour include those from the days off, of BBQs or lake days arranged by Lyman, and the volunteering experiences.
“Kevin will get a bunch of people and say, ‘Who wants to sign up?’ And you go and you volunteer a day or two every tour. You either go plant trees to reforest something or you go clean up a beach,” she said.
Her favorite such experience was in 2008, when a group of musicians and tour personnel spent a day in New Orleans, helping the people who had lived through Hurricane Katrina three years earlier rebuild. Much of the work that day involved cleaning people’s homes that, even three years later, were wrecked.
“I remember concluding that with spending this [night] at the lake. We were all lying outside, and I’ve never seen so many stars in my life,” she said.
Following TAT’s most recent Warped Tour, in 2015, DeMaria took a break to work on other music projects: producing other artists and writing for films and commercials—her claim to fame there is a worldwide 7-Up jingle. She enjoyed the time because it let her concentrate on the songs themselves rather than planning travel.
Still, whenever she found herself in a new city, she would arrange a solo show, where she tested out the songs she had been working on following Soho Lights. Many of those songs were more beat-based than guitar punk. Yet later on, when she tried to arrange them for TAT, they would lose what she thought made them different. Instead, she ended up keeping those songs for herself. In that way, she began working on her solo album.
“Sometimes a band will completely change sound but keep the name. It’s kind of hit me in a way, like, ‘Oh, shit, that’s over,’” she said. “With TAT, I didn’t want to disband or tear apart something that is there. … This gets to preserve TAT. There’s more freedom as a solo artist to produce and do stuff in a lot of different styles than there is when you’re in a band and you’re honoring that sound to a degree to your fans.”
Fans of TAT shouldn’t be completely disheartened. Songs still exist for the band’s long-awaited second album, DeMaria said. The band never broke up or gave up. It’s just not her priority right now.
“The most important thing to me in music is the person, the words, the story and how that’s conveyed. Me fulfilling my purpose mean sometimes varying the style,” she said. “I’m excited about this [solo] record because I can … express it any way sonically without upsetting TAT fans and without trashing something we took so long building.”
Just what that is is open to interpretation. Tatiana DeMaria speaks of having a lot to get off her chest right now but prefers for listeners to find their own meaning in her songs rather than going into specific motivations.
Sonically, however, its easier to explain what she means by expanding her sound. Her first single, “What It Is About You,” has a more pop-friendly sound, with a more complex song structure than TAT’s punk signatures.
Her next single, “London Don’t Lie,” is set to drop June 22. It’s a mid-tempo alt-rock ballad that sees Tatiana DeMaria croon a bit, extending the vowels, where in punk they’re more of a break between the rattle of consonants. The song also layers her vocals, which is new for the songwriter.
“The EP itself does serve as a transition in a way from the TAT sound to a more varied and open sound, and I think if there was a theme it would be that,” she said. “I’m excited to lead people down the garden path and take them where I’m going.”
DeMaria splits her time between London, New York and Los Angeles these days. She’s in New York on this particular day, about two weeks before the West Coast kick-off of the final Vans Warped Tour.
“It’s been an amazing run and I can understand that it’s maybe it’s time to take a step back from the national tour aspect,” she said. “The landscape has changed so much. … Going to gigs is a market that’s taken an interesting turn.
“I’m certainly going to miss my friends and the experience, and I’m definitely going to make the most of the last year and love every second of it.”
Follow editor Roman Gokhman at Twitter.com/RomiTheWriter.